Insecticide-treated nets usage and malaria episodes among boarding students in Zaria, Northern Nigeria
Background : Despite malaria being the largest public health problem in Africa South of Sahara with over one million associated deaths each year, there has been little progress in its prevention/control during the past decades. Therefore, this study was conducted to determine the knowledge, attitude, use of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs), and the prevalence of malaria episodes among boarding secondary school pupils in Zaria, Nigeria. Methods : A multi-stage sampling technique was used to sample five (5) secondary schools within Zaria, from which six classes (JSS 1 - 3 and SS 1- 3) of respondents were then randomly selected. Structured, closed-ended self-administered questionnaires were used to collect information on demographic characteristics, knowledge, attitude, and use of ITNs, reasons for non-use and malaria episodes in last 12 months. Results : A total of 150 students from the five (5) boarding secondary schools were interviewed, majority were in the age group 15-17 (53.3%) with a mean (x) +- SD of 16.8 +- 0.8 years. Males were 60% and females 40% of respondents. Majority of the respondents (87.3%) knew about and had actually seen an ITN; only 43.3% were current users. Most of the current users of ITN noticed a significant reduction in malaria episodes in the last 12 months. This was statistically significant (P=0.004). Cost and availability were reasons sited by non-ITN users. Conclusion : There is urgent need on the part of all the three tiers of Government for public health awareness campaigns through information, education and communication (IEC) to create positive ITN culture and usage. It is also suggested that ITN usage among boarding school pupils should be incorporated into school health service.